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Mark Richardson is a multimedia journalist, editor and writer who has worked in digital, print and broadcast media for three decades. He is a nationally recognized editor and reporter who has covered government, politics and the environment. A journalism graduate from the University of Texas at Austin, he was recently awarded a Foundation for Investigative Journalism grant and has three Associated Press Managing Editors awards for excellence in reporting.
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Politically active District 10 the home of Austin’s establishment, and more
Of all the districts carved out of the city by the Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission, District 10 is the one that best represents “establishment Austin.”
The area is made of up neighborhoods nestled in the spectacular hills west of downtown with names like Tarrytown, Northwest Hills, Rosedale, Jester Estates and Great Hills. And it is populated by many of the city’s movers and shakers – housing people with high-dollar occupations such as doctors, lawyers, entrepreneurs and not a small number of those with trust funds, as well.
The area has been, for most of the city’s history, the center of its political power. One of the driving forces behind the movement to change the City Council from an at-large system to a 10-1 District system is that, for decades, a majority of Council members elected usually came from the West Austin neighborhoods in what is now District 10.
The district is roughly bounded by MoPac Boulevard on east, Lake Austin on the south, U.S. 183 on the north, and the boundary with District 6 on the west. It is a large district, at about 43 square miles, and has a moderately low population density at 2.9 persons per acre. The area has been built out for many years and only saw a 4 percent population growth from 2000 to 2010.
District 10 is described demographically as 78.3 percent white, 9.3 percent Hispanic, 8.6 percent Asian and less than 4 percent blacks or other races. Some 6 percent of district residents identify as non-citizens. The district’s population is, overall, slightly older than many other areas of the city, and it has the largest number of Senior Citizens – at 12.5 percent – in the city.
It is the wealthiest in district in Austin with a $128,000 median family income and a 7.7 percent rate of poverty, the second lowest among the districts. The district has the highest rate in the city of owner-occupied housing, at 57.1 percent. The cumulative value of property in the district in $16 billion, the largest outside of the downtown area.
The neighborhoods that make of District 10 are some of the most politically active in the city. Some 63 percent of District 10 residents are registered to vote and a very high number of them showed up at the polls in 2012. The area is a swing district with a slight lean toward the Democrats. It voted against the affordable housing bond program in 2012 by a 15 percent margin but passed the 2013 bond measure by a slightly less overwhelming number.
Residents who have tossed their hats in the ring for the District 10 Council seat include Margie Burciaga, Tina Cannon, Mandy Dealey, Sherri Gallo, Matt Lamon, Jason Meeker, Robert Thomas and William Worsham.
Burciaga, 55, is the owner of Image Consulting Austin. Burciaga has served as PTA president, and founded the Safe Homes program at Anderson High School. That program strengthened underage drinking laws, as did a later state law that she helped initiate. Burciaga says that her background as a financial planner, life coach and consultant helped to create a skill set that will be a valued commodity on the new Austin City Council.
Burciaga’s campaign dubs her the “tax cut lady,” and promises to help make Austin affordable through homestead exemption, lower tax rates for apartments, and zero line accounting at a city level. Her platform also stresses transparency in utility fees, improved transportation infrastructure and increased police presence on the streets.
Cannon, 42, is a partner at entrepreneur advisory firm Napkin Venture and a director of client relations at Tuggey Calvoz law firm. Cannon ran for City Council in 2012, losing to Council Member Bill Spelman. Cannon was also the CEO and co-founder of the PetsMD.com and worked as an EMT. She is a former member of the Austin Chapter of Certified Fraud Examiners board of directors, Austin Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce board of directors and the steering committee of StartOut Austin.
Cannon’s campaign promises to “bring a common sense, fiscal-minded and culturally aware approach to city government.” Cannon’s platform is focused on the city’s “broken” property tax appraisal system, concerns about the rising cost of and conservation of water, and emergency preparedness for wildfires and natural disasters.
Dealey, 63, is a community advocate who has served on six of the city’s boards, including the Planning Commission and Waterfront Overlay Task Force. She has also chaired the boards of the Austin Area Mental Health Association, Planned Parenthood of Austin, the Texas Lyceym, Preservation Austin and is current chair of KMFA-FM. Dealey ran for City Council in 2005, ultimately losing to Jennifer Kim.
Dealey has focused her campaign platform on water conservation, improving transportation, affordability, protecting neighborhoods and preserving the bedrock of Austin, which she identifies as the people, the environment, the culture and the geography. “These are our greatest resources, and if we squander them, we will lose our character and our soul,” says Dealey.
Gallo, 61, is a real estate agent and owner of Private Properties, Inc. Gallo also serves on the UT Development Board, the UT School of Social Work Advisory Board, the executive board of the Settlement Club, the Austin Apartment Association (she was president in 1992) and as a docent of the Texas Governor’s Mansion. Gallo is also a past board member of the Real Estate Council of Austin, and the former chair for the city’s Housing Authority. Gallo has lived in District 10 for the past 50 years, and hopes that her “fiscally conservative, socially moderate views” will fit well with the area.
Gallo’s campaign promises to focus on transportation solutions; affordability and controlling taxes; water, drought and wildfire; public safety; “aggressive and organized” infrastructure improvements; helping local businesses and transparency in government and spending. Gallo says that she will require city departments to work more efficiently, and remember that the citizens of Austin are the “customers.”
Lamon, 32, is the chief of staff for State Rep. J.M. Lozano (R-Kingsville.) Lamon is an Austin native who serves on the board of directors of Welcome Table, a non-profit established to serve low income families in East Austin.
Lamon has narrowed his campaign to six main topics so far, and promises to find transportation solutions, promote efficiency in government, advocate for parks and recreation programs (including the “Save Muny” campaign), ensure strong police and fire protection, reduce the cost of living and work for Austin’s families.
Meeker, 45, is the owner of a marketing, advertising and public relations firm. Meeker serves on the city’s Zoning and Platting Commission, as president of the Great Hills Homeowners Association and president of the Great Hills Park Neighborhood Association. Meeker is also a representative for the Austin Neighborhoods Council. Meeker ran for City Council in 2008, losing to Mayor Lee Leffingwell, who was then on Council, and is perhaps best-known for fighting the Northcross Mall Wal-Mart with the group Responsible Growth for Northcross.
Meeker’s campaign is focused on the power of people to make a difference, and he strengthen neighborhoods. He promises to “take on the challenges of rapid growth, and welcome the energy and excitement of new people, businesses and fresh ideas, but stand strong for the communities and traditions that make Austin a place we all want to live, work, retire and play.
Thomas, 47, is a lawyer and business consultant who is the chair of the AISD Bond Oversight Committee, SafePlace’s board, Austin Partners in Education, the Northwest Austin Civic Association, representative for the Austin Neighborhoods Council and a board member of the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs. In 2012, Thomas lost to Donna Howard in the race for State Representative for House District 48.
In his “Agenda for Austin,” Thomas identifies five core issues: traffic congestion, affordability, water, emergency services and environmental stewardship. Thomas also touts a “2020” vision that looks to ensure that the city continues to be “that bright light that beacon in the Hill Country,” in the face of traffic congestion, drought and affordability concerns.
Worsham, 50, is a professional engineer who has lived in Austin for the past 19 years, and traces his roots back to the Original 300 of Stephen F. Austin’s Colony. Worsham is a member of the Real Estate Council of Austin, the West Austin Neighborhood Group, and was involved in the Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission, even going so far as to submit his own maps for consideration.
Worsham’s campaign focuses on traffic (though not the current rail proposal), funding parks, fire readiness programming, and a closer look at the water utility and Austin Energy – particularly the diversion of utility revenues. Worsham also promises to take a closer look at the city’s contribution to inflated housing costs, including the cost of promoting growth and maintaining high property taxes.
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Key Players & Topics In This Article
Austin City Council November 2014 Elections: The November 2014 Austin City Council elections marked a shift from an all-at-large City Council to one elected based mostly on geographic districts. The city's Mayor remains elected at-large.